In a September 8 Los Angeles Times editorial entitled “Governor Newsom throws South L.A. under the broadband bus,” the Times editorial board stated that the Newsom administration cut broadband projects in some of the neediest, most disconnected communities in the state, including South and Southeast Los Angeles and East Oakland, while adding projects in some of the most affluent, tech-connected communities, including Beverly Hills and Culver City.”
Gene Hale, chairman of the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce spoke to Gov. Newsom about changes to the plan to expand broadband access. Newsom again affirmed his commitment to fund all planned middle-mile segments in these communities in his January budget proposal.
Newsom’s office issued the following response: “The Administration remains fully committed to funding the State’s Middle-Mile Network, a 10,000-mile broadband network developed in partnership with communities across the state. Due to inflation and rising construction costs, the $3.87 billion in federal and state funding provided to date is estimated to be sufficient to develop about 8,300 miles of the network, providing a state-of-the-art backbone to connect high-speed internet projects for unserved communities.
“As such, Governor Newsom will propose to fully fund the remaining 1,700 miles as part of January’s budget. With this additional funding, we will complete the total 10,000 miles needed to serve all urban, rural and tribal communities throughout the state, providing physical access to high-speed internet for unserved and underserved communities.
“The Governor views this investment as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide California with the largest, most resilient open-access network in the nation, making it possible for households to receive internet service through last-mile connections so that every Californian may fully participate in a digital society and the modern economy.”
Newsom approved legislation to advance the state’s commitment to bridging the digital divide by increasing equitable, affordable access to high-speed internet service across California in July 2021. Through a $6 billion multi-year investment, more Californians would be able to access broadband coverage with the construction of a state-owned open access middle mile network and last mile projects that connect unserved households and businesses with local networks.
The historic legislation advances the statewide broadband plan with expanded infrastructure prioritizing unserved and underserved areas.
The legislation includes:
- $3.25 billion to build, operate and maintain an open access, state-owned middle mile network – high-capacity fiber lines that carry large amounts of data at higher speeds over longer distances between local networks.
- $2 billion to set up last-mile broadband connections that will connect homes and businesses with local networks. The legislation expedites project deployment and enables Tribes and local governments to access this funding.
- $750 million for a loan loss reserve fund to bolster the ability of local governments and nonprofits to secure financing for broadband infrastructure.
- Creation of a broadband czar position at the California Department of Technology, and a broadband advisory committee with representatives from across state government and members appointed by the Legislature.
“As we work to build California back stronger than before, the state is committed to addressing the challenges laid bare by the pandemic, including the digital divide holding back too many communities in a state renowned for its pioneering technology and innovation economy,” said Newsom.
“This $6 billion investment will make broadband more accessible than ever before, expanding opportunity across the spectrum for students, families and businesses.”